The Flowers of St. Francis

Francesco, giullare di Dio

Roberto Rossellini, Italia, 1950


This scene takes place at the end of the film.
Francois has decided that the first brotherhood of his monks should now separate and head off to the 4 corners of the country so that the brothers can spread the word of god. How should they decide which direction each of them should go?
Francis comes up with a childlike idea that seems fair.  He won’t be the one to deicide the direction in which the brothers head off in, he’ll leave it up to a childish spinning game. All of the monks will spin on the spot until they get so dizzy that they wobble off in a random direction. They will then follow the course of the direction that they wobbled off in. Making a serious decision by returning to a childish game echoes the very nature of the features that make up this Franciscan community, the spirit of innocence and joy. 

Rossellini adds a gag in to the scene. Everyone presumes that the oldest monk, who’s a touch simple, is going to fall first, but in fact he doesn’t give in to the dizziness and falls last of all. But even the gentle mocking of the character is full of tenderness and affection.